These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In North Carolina


We analyzed over 112 places in North Carolina to identify the ones that offer the most to retirees.

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When most people think of calling it quits on a career, they immediately think of a move to Florida.

But not everyone wants to spend their golden years in Florida; some of us want to stay close to friends and family and within the great state of North Carolina.

But where exactly in North Carolina? Well, there’s only one place to go for the answer — data.

To that end, we have tried to identify the places in North Carolina that are safe, affordable, and have plenty of things to keep you busy well into retirement.

What did we find after pouring through all the data? Let’s just say we hope folks in Kannapolis don’t mind us spreading the word. Here are our top ten places in the Tar Heel State to retire:

  1. Kannapolis
  2. Apex
  3. Stallings
  4. Holly Springs
  5. Burlington
  6. Cornelius
  7. Knightdale
  8. Elon
  9. Carrboro
  10. Chapel Hill

Why did Kannapolis take the top spot? And where are Greensboro and Durham? Read on to see see all the golden parachute level details.

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How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Tar Heel State

To create our list of the best places in North Carolina to retire, we first used Census data to find all places in the Tar Heel State with a population of at least 5,000 that aren’t townships.

This left us with 112 places from across the state.

For these 112, we looked at the following criteria taken from the Census, the FBI’s Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights:

  • Low cost of living
  • Low crime
  • Things to do (As measured by population density)
  • Nice weather
  • Distance to the closest international airport

We then ranked each of these places for each criteria from one to 112, with the lowest number being the best.

Finally, we took the average rank across these criteria. The place, in this case Kannapolis, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers.

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1. Kannapolis

Kannapolis, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 43,865
Cost Of Living: 85
Distance to Closest Airport: 24 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,375
Kannapolis ranked 1 overall thanks to its 19 place rank for cost of living and 23 place safety rank.

2. Apex

Apex, North Carolina

Source: Flickr

Population: 40,631
Cost Of Living: 113
Distance to Closest Airport: 11 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,205
Apex ranked 2 overall thanks to its 108 place rank for cost of living and 6 place safety rank.

3. Stallings


Population 2014: 14,185
Cost Of Living: 102
Distance to Closest Airport: 17 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,438
Stallings ranked 3 overall thanks to its 88 place rank for cost of living and 8 place safety rank.

4. Holly Springs

Holly Springs, North Carolina

Source: Flickr

Population: 27,339
Cost Of Living: 107
Distance to Closest Airport: 15 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,053
Holly Springs ranked 4 overall thanks to its 98 place rank for cost of living and 2 place safety rank.

5. Burlington

Burlington, North Carolina

Source: Flickr

Population: 51,740
Cost Of Living: 84
Distance to Closest Airport: 40 miles
Crime Per 100k: 4,669
Burlington ranked 5 overall thanks to its 14 place rank for cost of living and 63 place safety rank.

6. Cornelius

Cornelius, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 26,246
Cost Of Living: 110
Distance to Closest Airport: 18 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,596
Cornelius ranked 6 overall thanks to its 103 place rank for cost of living and 9 place safety rank.

7. Knightdale

Knightdale, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 12,692
Cost Of Living: 93
Distance to Closest Airport: 17 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,435
Knightdale ranked 7 overall thanks to its 71 place rank for cost of living and 36 place safety rank.

8. Elon

Elon, North Carolina

Source: Flickr

Population: 9,516
Cost Of Living: 99
Distance to Closest Airport: 43 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,082
Elon ranked 8 overall thanks to its 83 place rank for cost of living and 3 place safety rank.

9. Carrboro

Carrboro, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 20,337
Cost Of Living: 110
Distance to Closest Airport: 17 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,581
Carrboro ranked 9 overall thanks to its 103 place rank for cost of living and 28 place safety rank.

10. Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 58,379
Cost Of Living: 128
Distance to Closest Airport: 14 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,454
Chapel Hill ranked 10 overall thanks to its 112 place rank for cost of living and 26 place safety rank.

Maybe You’re Not Ready To Retire Yet…

So there you have it, the best place to retire in North Carolina goes to Kannapolis.

If you’re not ready to hang up your office apparel yet, then these places might be up your alley:

  • Washington
  • Mount Airy
  • Pineville

For more North Carolina reading , check out:

Detailed List Of Best Places To Retire In North Carolina

City Rank Population Cost Of Living Distane To Airport Crimes per 100k
Kannapolis 1 43,865 85 24 2,375
Apex 2 40,631 113 11 1,205
Stallings 3 14,185 102 17 1,438
Holly Springs 4 27,339 107 15 1,053
Burlington 5 51,740 84 40 4,669
Cornelius 6 26,246 110 18 1,596
Knightdale 7 12,692 93 17 3,435
Elon 8 9,516 99 43 1,082
Carrboro 9 20,337 110 17 2,581
Chapel Hill 10 58,379 128 14 2,454
Gibsonville 11 6,565 91 44 1,782
Gastonia 12 72,664 85 13 5,741
Davidson 13 11,492 116 19 1,157
Brevard 14 7,651 99 100 3,110
Wake Forest 15 33,319 112 16 2,383
Matthews 16 28,677 106 14 2,775
Graham 17 14,384 86 35 4,470
Waynesville 18 9,770 87 117 3,694
Thomasville 19 27,042 80 66 4,289
Kings Mountain 20 10,743 84 23 2,932
Garner 21 26,723 95 15 4,730
High Point 22 106,797 86 67 4,090
Cherryville 23 5,826 85 27 3,621
Concord 24 82,266 93 21 3,043
Fuquay-Varina 25 20,246 99 19 3,511
Morrisville 26 20,728 110 4 2,310
Wendell 27 6,085 91 22 2,300
Carolina Beach 28 5,888 110 15 4,636
Greensboro 29 276,225 88 60 4,165
Mooresville 30 34,466 101 26 3,226
Shelby 31 20,283 81 34 4,249
Selma 32 6,172 81 36 5,622
Newton 33 12,998 82 34 3,839
Archdale 34 11,322 87 65 2,375
Huntersville 35 49,279 109 13 2,157
Butner 36 7,661 87 17 2,636
Lexington 37 19,029 80 55 3,830
Cary 38 146,041 118 6 1,238
Clayton 39 17,274 97 24 2,552
Eden 40 15,543 80 68 3,590
Hickory 41 40,108 86 42 5,118
Wilson 42 49,389 91 48 4,385
Winterville 43 9,424 93 81 1,835
Mount Holly 44 13,815 91 7 1,809
Oxford 45 8,585 86 32 7,734
Boone 46 17,802 104 80 2,145
Dunn 47 9,570 85 40 7,983
Waxhaw 48 10,878 98 22 1,176
King 49 6,732 87 52 3,446
Greenville 50 87,546 87 81 4,743
Rocky Mount 51 57,071 82 55 5,741
Roxboro 52 8,330 87 36 5,474
Mint Hill 53 23,934 104 16 2,281
Statesville 54 25,132 84 39 5,216
Sanford 55 28,798 90 34 3,795
Havelock 56 20,850 90 72 1,913
Tarboro 57 11,323 80 68 3,903
Wilmington 58 110,100 100 4 5,393
Lincolnton 59 10,601 92 24 4,980
Mebane 60 12,509 96 30 5,028
Henderson 61 15,325 90 37 10,851
Marion 62 7,948 82 67 8,127
Winston-Salem 63 234,469 86 72 6,223
Asheboro 64 25,573 86 58 6,366
Wilson 65 49,389 91 77 4,385
Hamlet 66 6,566 85 73 5,147
Morganton 67 16,816 86 55 4,091
Salisbury 68 33,524 92 40 5,870
Mocksville 69 5,086 81 51 5,033
Fayetteville 70 202,421 90 55 5,712
Reidsville 71 14,249 81 58 5,502
King 72 6,732 87 80 3,446
Lenoir 73 18,061 86 57 4,573
Monroe 74 33,588 90 26 5,790
Conover 75 8,200 86 37 5,451
Albemarle 76 15,924 86 43 5,501
Boiling Spring Lakes 77 5,529 106 18 2,803
Hope Mills 78 16,024 94 63 6,746
Hendersonville 79 13,350 95 85 4,494
King 80 6,732 87 87 3,446
Ahoskie 81 5,017 85 60 7,554
Kernersville 82 23,522 92 74 4,242
Belmont 83 10,346 92 5 4,272
Williamston 84 5,410 84 86 8,835
Pinehurst 85 15,052 112 60 764
Black Mountain 86 7,977 103 82 1,767
Roanoke Rapids 87 15,653 88 74 7,148
Durham 88 240,107 98 9 5,380
Wadesboro 89 5,711 84 52 8,019
Goldsboro 90 35,908 91 57 7,065
Smithfield 91 11,357 89 34 6,665
Rockingham 92 9,444 86 69 10,101
New Bern 93 30,171 88 73 4,603
Spring Lake 94 13,101 88 49 5,297
Kinston 95 21,589 86 71 8,411
Clinton 96 8,729 91 55 5,750
Hillsborough 97 6,256 107 22 7,049
Laurinburg 98 15,799 87 81 6,500
Fletcher 99 7,320 106 89 1,734
Lumberton 100 21,707 87 65 15,552
Whiteville 101 5,465 87 45 14,711
Asheville 102 85,783 102 93 5,569
Leland 103 15,316 104 7 2,278
Oak Island 104 7,051 107 27 4,694
Woodfin 105 6,167 100 97 1,783
Aberdeen 106 6,702 93 62 5,371
Monroe 107 33,588 90 96 5,790
Kill Devil Hills 108 6,810 113 67 5,653
Southern Pines 109 12,782 110 58 4,662
Pineville 110 7,855 91 8 13,061
Mount Airy 111 10,411 92 91 5,177
Washington 112 9,768 96 99 7,637

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